Thursday, December 20, 2012

Solutions to Holiday Problems Including Puffy Eyes

We’re closed next week and you know what happens right before you go away? Well if you’re like us, you start to lose it. As we outlined our December newsletter, holiday music coming our of our ears (nothing against holiday music), we joked about the 12 days of Christmas which morphed into the 12 days of Craziness and here you have it. For time’s sake I’ll work backwards. I suggest singing out loud it’s sort of stress relieving you know the tune

On the twelfth day of Craziness, Foodtrainers gave to me
A gift certificate for January Foodtraining
Peace of Mind” for patience waning
Oloves for the plane delay
Safslim so weight wont stay
Gluten free cookies for Santa ho, ho, ho
Pure Aloe Force to help me “go”
Hangover Tonic for after “highs”
Green tea ice cubes for puffy eyes.
Raw Reserve for portable green juice
Newtree for my sweet tooth
Astragalus for Immunity

The green tea ice cube tip came from our friend Valerie, founder of Odacite’ skincare. Odacite uses only the best ingredients (all organic no paraben nastiness lurking) I’ve mentioned them before in a skincare post. Recently, they sent out a fantastic email that Valerie gave me permission to repost (condensed a bit).  I love the combination of topical and nutritional solutions for our eyes which Valerie explains is the first place to show signs of aging (no kidding) so it’s important to start caring for eyes early. Find your eye issue and corresponding solution. Personally, I’m a puffiness/sagging hybrid.
Fine Lines, Crows Feet, Sagging
The Cause: UV rays, wind, cold, heat cause inflammation and diminish skin's elasticity. Repeated expressions (smiling, squinting) form creases.
Odacité Solution: Evening primrose, jojoba, and olive oils to hydrate and maintain flexibility. Pomegranate to support the skin’s underlying structure. Blue Green Algae contains powerful antioxidants hat will stimulate the renewal of the firming tissues.
Nutrition Help: Include a variety of brightly colored fresh fruits and veggies in your diet for a blast of antioxidants
The Cause: The skin around your eyes is very thin and does not produce any oil making it extra prone to dryness and flakiness.
Odacité Solutions:  Hyaluronic acid attracts and binds water within the cells of the skin to bring instant hydration. Because hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in skin, collagen and other areas of the body it is deeply absorbed with no risk of irritation or allergy.
Nutrition Help: Include nuts and seeds in your diet. One of my favorites is chia, with the highest nu source of omega 3s fatty acids of any seed. Chia seeds are also hydrophilic meaning they attract water.
Dark Circles
The Cause: Genetics, lifestyle, lack of sleep. Also the under-eye and eyelid skin gets thinner and more transparent with age, allowing bluish-red blood vessels to show through.
Odacité Solution:  Tea extracts and Tocopherols (natural Vit E) improve circulation, lessening bluish tones from blood - Aloe to speed healing - Blue green algae for its high Vitamin K content.
Nutrition Help: Eat foods rich in vitamin K, it helps fortify blood-vessel walls. The major source of Vitamin K is green, leafy, vegetables - kale, collards, spinach, and turnip greens are the highest.
The Cause: Fluid pools around the eyes while you sleep but should drain quickly after you get up. Persistent swelling may result from stress, lack of sleep, allergies that cause irritation, or a diet that promotes water retention.
Odacité Solution: Aloe vera to soothe irritated skin.  Calendula to reduce inflammation and redness.  Tea to diminish excess fluid.
Nutrition Help: Drink plenty of water and limit salty restaurant foods, caffeine and alcohol to reduce water retention.
Odacite has a fantastic eye cream for all of your (and my) eye complaints. The Ultra Effective Eye cream is super concentrated, yet very well tolerated by even the most sensitive skin. I contemplated never smiling again, based on what Valerie mentioned, but that will not work so until then Odacite says Happy, puff-free Holidays and is offering a Free eye cream + free shipping with orders above $120 if you use the Code FOODT. Offer valid for 3 days or until 12/23.
Do you use eye cream? What’s your main eye issue? What do you do to ameliorate it? Are you conscious of looking at ingredients in your cosmetics and skincare?
Happy Holidays, thank you for reading. If there’s any topic you’d like to see covered in the New Year, let me know. I’m off to mainline chia and aloe.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is Christie Too Fat To Be President?

Barbara Walters interviewed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for her "10 Most Fascinating People" Special. I find it rather fascinating that Barbara is this doing these specials but I digress. I’ll admit, I didn’t watch the special but during the interview Barbara did it. She asked the Governor if he was too fat to run for president.

In the commentary I read/watched and by that I mean the ladies of The View rehashing this, Whoopie, and I love Whoopie mentioned Christie could be a heart attack risk. She expressed that people care about his health. If health were really what people cared about they’d be looking at all candidates genetic predispositions and blood work. Our health risk is not purely determined by our weight; it’s just that weight is easier to see. Nobody was aware that President Clinton had a quadruple bypass hiding beneath his skin. Clinton’s “issues” were hidden, at least for a time. I’ve had too many overweight clients told by their companies “we’re worried about you” and some genuinely are. However, many corporations and even family members are also worried by what the obese person’s weight may say about them.

In the interview Christie cited his around the clock work during Hurricane Sandy as proof of his conditioning. It was during Sandy that many were impressed by Christie perhaps even familiarizing themselves with him for the first time. However, I recall press conferences with Christie hunched over the podium, almost hanging on it. He seemed fatigued and worn. Can we make the assumption this is because of his weight? Christie cannot plead the fit but fat card; in 2011 he was hospitalized for asthma.

I have very mixed feelings about all of this. I’d be omitting how I truly feel if, politics aside, I didn’t think of Christie as a potential president with some concern. As someone who champions wellness and fitness, part of me would wonder what Christie, a 300-pound president, would say to the nation and others as we struggle with an obesity epidemic. And as I type that, I can see the counter argument. We have to be careful that we don’t adhere to a narrow, conventional image for our leaders. There was a time when it seemed to be the president you had to be slim and white and male. Thank goodness we have seen that white isn’t a prerequisite. Maybe accepting someone obese is another way of knocking stereotypes down. Although weight isn’t exactly the same thing as race or gender, weight is technically within our control, which makes it tricky.

With Walters, Christie acknowledged that weight was his Achilles heel. Barbara Walters then really crossed over into stupid question land when she asked the governor “why?” We all have flaws and asking some who drinks or yells why they do it shows ignorance. Perhaps, if I let my optimistic side have a crack at this Christie running would shine a light on weight and work and many important (and some stupid) questions along the way.
Do you think weight, when obese, plays a role in politics? What about other professions? Do you think Walter was justified in asking the original question?

And since we're talking politics, I thought I'd include these. A group of RDs supporting Let's Move were in DC in the fall. We're still trying...

The "Garden" is beautiful, any private citizen can request a tour... 
View of The White House from the garden.
The calm before the storm
OK garden tour over, time for lunch.

Carolyn, Ashley and I wish I, cheating photo from before our visit

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do you prefer Sally Field or Elizabeth Olsen Foods?

I have mixed feelings about food fashions. Some trends can get out of hand. For example, there is kale which I suggested was getting Kardashian like. Though the trendiness annoys me, I still like kale. As for Kim and Kourtney…still don’t quite understand. Other foods are more Elizabeth Olsen-ish. They are intriging and appealing but you may or may not have heard of them. With any new foods there’s a vetting process we go through to find out if it’s not only new but worthy.

Irish Moss
Irish moss is a seaweed that’s high in protein, iodine and some B vitamins
It’s commonly used as a thickener; you soak it and then blend it. It works well in smoothies and many vegan desserts such as mousses and custards. Unfortunately some reports lead us to believe it’s potentially a health hazard and can increase the risk of certain cancers. This is a good reminder that just because something is natural doesn’t mean safe. I wouldn't "cast" this one.

Sea Buckthorn 
(see photo above)
I first started thinking about sea buckthorn a couple of winters ago. Sea buckthorn oil is used in many lotions and topical preparations and is one of my go-to weapons for dry, flaky “winter skin”. Sure enough, I wasn’t the only one comtemplating buckthorn and now I’m hearing about it more and more. Sea-buckhorn’s Latin name means “making horses shine” and this interesting omega-7 oil, rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, is helpful for many skin conditions. Sea buckthorn is a shrub with a brightly colored berry; it has a tart flavor. A company called Sibu makes a sea buckhorn juice product; my only hesitation is that due to the flavor it is paired with apple juice concentrate. Dr Weil’s restaurants True Food use sea buckthorn juice in a number of dishes including a sorbet. We’ve seen sea buckthorn jelly and teas. I look forward to more options and edible forms, my concern is that since the taste is sour and acidic many preparations like the Sibu will be sweeter. This is a food I’d put into the “one to watch” category.  For now, lotions such as Weleda’s Sea Buckthorn Lotion and buckhorn oil used topically are good options.


Photo via Eattheweeds
Yacon is a root vegetable but not just any root vegetable. It has prebiotic properties meaning it helps intestinal flora as probiotics feed on prebiotics. Jerusalem artichokes are also prebiotics. Yacon is one of the highest vegetable sources of FOS (fructooligosaccharides), which help GI health (less bloating and less constipation), immunity and potentially mood. Yacon also boats a sweet taste but doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. I use yacon in smoothies using a powdered form from Navitas Naturals that has been increasingly hard to find.  There is also yacon syrup, which can be used in baking, and yacon slices which makes a nice snack.  Yacon, with interesting attributes, is definitely worth checking out. Yacon aced its audition.

So whether it’s foods or film, there’s nothing wrong with reliable standbys. Sally Field or Sally Field foods broccoli, cauliflower etc. aren’t going anywhere and are great options. However, whether for variety or for specific health benefits it’s fun to branch out, you just might not like what you find every time.
Do you like experimenting with new ingredients? Which ones are you enjoying lately? Would you say you like Sally Field or Elizabeth Olsen foods?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Reliefatinis for the Food Bank of New York

 When you lose someone you love, there’s a period of time where everyone is reaching out. They have you on their radar and call, email and want to help you through the unbearably tough time. Inevitably, your friends, coworkers and neighbors go back to their lives and somewhat expect you to do the same. However,  you can’t bounce back because for you it’s not a current event or a minor setback, for you it’s everything. I would bet so many people devastated by Sandy are feeling that sense that the world around them is going back to normal.  As we buy gifts, light candles and put up trees, remember that  “the things we take for granted others are praying for”.

During the storm, I reached out to my talented friends Marissa Alperin, jewelry designer,  and John Marsh chef/owner of Green Square Tavern (according to Dr Oz, Marsh is a food snob too, thank goodness) to put together an evening to benefit Food Bank NYC. Last Thursday night was the gathering.
As you may know, I love to plan, but also had some great help.

There were flowers from my favorite local florist Rachel Cho

Delicious organic bites from John Marsh of Greensquare Tavern

Resident taste tester, sampling before guests arrive
Shrimp with a homemade hoisin
When it came to cocktails,  Marissa and I knew we needed a Reliefatini but I was striking out with apple (for "Big Apple") concoctions. A friend found a description for a drink from a place in SF called Elixir. I emailed for a recipe and before I knew it had virtual mixology support from the proprietor of Elixir, Joseph Ehrmann. I infused Chopin (potato vodka) with cinnamon sticks for 48 hours, purchased apple bitters, had a bottle of Morris Kitchen ginger syrup and fresh lime juice. As I thought of more and more things to add, my cocktail advisor suggested "remember less is more" which just happened to have been one of my dad's mantras. 

 We also had white wine with a few pomagranate seeds for color and cucumber infused water.
And of course Marissa’s creations (with profits for Sandy) and a donation box for Food Bank NYC

There was a part of me that felt guilty “partying” in the name of Sandy. I decided we should share a story as a reminder of why we had all gathered together. My friend J. spoke of her babysitter Verna. Verna, mother of 9 children herself, is a special soul. When our kids were younger, on my most frazzled days I would see Verna at preschool and in 30 seconds she’d have me calm. My nanny sick? Verna would watch the baby so I could run to work. Verna lived in the Rockaways a couple of blocks from the water and lost everything in the storm. She and her children were in the shelters and then scattered with family. J shared this story and Marissa pulled me aside and said “why aren’t we giving everything to Verna”? I knew what she meant but there are so many Verna’s.

J talking about Verna
Can you spot Carolyn? I have a lot of tall friends, what's up with that?
At the end of the night, Marissa realized we didn’t raffle off a beautiful pair of earrings; she left them with me to use for the blog. Friday, as I was cleaning up and thinking about the night, the doorbell rang. I know it sounds like I’m making this up but you know who it was. It was Verna with a huge smile on her face, of course. My babysitter and Verna were friends and she had been calling her nonstop but hadn’t reached her. When I hugged her and asked that dumb question “how are you?” She looked at me and said “I’m getting there.” Wow.  I ran to my office and put together some money and then had a thought. I gave Verna the note with cash in it to help her family but then I remembered Marissa’s earrings. I told Verna, I know you’re not spending on things as silly as this, please accept these and know we’re still thinking about you.

Verna on the left and lovely Louise on the right
It was a really special night; I had friends together from many different parts of my life. Many of these women showed up for Sandy and the Food Bank despite not knowing anyone. Everyone mixed and mingled. The next day I received a bunch of emails thanking me for hosting but what touched me is how many comments I received about the group who had assembled. "Your friends are lovely" said one guest. The truth is they are. Hosting is  a way to have some fun with great food and interesting drinks but I don't take for granted everyone who showed up to support a cause that will continue to need our help.

I'm a fan of a party favor and we had a bowl of one of my favorite treats "Mounds" cookies from a fantastic restaurant Rockin' Raw. A note on the bowl read "thank you for supporting our Sandy Efforts, you rock." What really rocked was sending in a substantial donation to the Food Bank of New York.
My friend Aidan Donnelley Rowley recently posted on the ingredients for a good gathering, what do you think those are? Everyone talks about the importance of a relaxed host, can you relax when hosting? Do you think it's inevitable to "go back to normal" following a disaster? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

No, I Haven't Started Holiday Shopping

Not once but twice yesterday I was asked “all your Christmas shopping done?” This question bugs me for a few reasons. First, I was never told holiday shopping was competitive but seems it is, second how do strangers know if I Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanza? And I guess third is the fact that I haven’t really started “holiday” shopping so being reminded of that stresses me out. 

Last week I posted about some selections from our Foodtrainers’ Gift Guide. I have a few personal favorites from the list I couldn’t leave out.  It’s probably no coincidence that two items are things you can do at home and the other two make me smile. Staying home and smiling sounds good to me, anyone else?

For the kombuchaholic on your list, here’s a DIY kit. Part of me is nervous to ferment on my own but I can see saving serious money doing so. Did you know Whole Foods now cards for kombucha? Yup.

Fuck Skinny
I love Catherine Zadeh’s work. She does jewelry for both women and men (the manly bracelets are great gifts).  She’s not only talented but snarky and charitable. She’s donating 15% if you use code LIFE 15 to Cycle for Survival. Skinny is fine but healthy and alive is where it’s at.

There are so many things to worry about I often don’t know where to start. There’s the pulp waste from the juicer and the coffee grinds from the coffee maker. BTTR shared my waste-worry and devised a way to use coffee grinds to make dinner. Talk about resourceful, I’m thinking the kids will like this gift as much as I will. As they say “the gift that keeps on growing”. If mushroom growing sounds up your alley (not those mushrooms people), BTTR is giving one of their kits away.

Carolyn found these “geltdigger” sweaters and I love them. Hanukah starts on the 8th and I’m thinking you need to wear one of these to that party or give it to your favorite geltfiend.

Karlie’s Kookies.
My friend Meg brought these for me at our Sandy fundraiser last week. They’re from Momofuko Milk Bar, gluten free, not too sweet. I love everything about them but the Huffington Post didn’t. They didn’t like that Karlie Kloss, a model accused of being too thin, is producing cookies with the tagline “fashionably wholesome”. It appears they are saying fuck skinny.
Have you jumped into the holiday shopping shark tank? What do you think makes a great gift? What’s the best gift you’ve received recently? Comment for a chance to win Back to the Root's cool growing kit or tweet us @Foodtrainers. Enter by Monday 12/10.
Congratulations to our gift winners
Erin, you'll be receive Weelicious
Randi the Sprigs running wallet
Jessica the Foodtrainers Nutcase
Liz, Sam, Cameo, Gina and EA the Dram Hangover Tonic
Cheers to all of you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Time Magazine Says I'm A Snob, Are You?

Let’s start with a little scenario. At work, you’re up for a promotion. The promotion would be great; the extra money will make a difference. It’s something you’d really like to happen. Your current position is fine, it pays the bills but you’d love the opportunity to take on the new job. Announcements are made and you don’t get it. Initially you’re crushed but you find a way to spin it. “I didn’t really want the job, it would mean longer hours and more stress, I’m fine with my current position.” Let me translate, once you saw that you weren’t switching jobs, and receiving the associated benefits, you made a case for status quo…that doesn’t mean the promotion wouldn’t have been better.

The same thinking applies to food. Organic everything is not in everyone’s budget. That doesn’t mean (Stanford University) that organic/wild/grass-fed isn’t “worth” it. It’s up to nutritionists to assist individuals to make the best food choices with what they have to spend. Dr Oz, in a Time Magazine cover story “What to Eat Now: the anti-food-snob diet”, is telling Americans not only do you not need the “promotion” (or fresh produce or uncanned food) but also that your current position (supermarket staples) is just as good. I’m all for pointing out affordable, cost-effective food options but you don’t have to knock well-produced food. If we assume  all foods are created equal you’re not getting the whole story.

Dr Oz would probably agree you can get heart surgery at most hospitals but “elite” institutions like Columbia University Medical Center will offer cutting edge techniques, the finest doctors and superior care. Would it make you a “health snob” to send a family member, assuming you had the opportunity, to a top-notch hospital? Or is all heart surgery, like spinach, is the same?

Throughout the article Dr Oz frequently uses “nutritionally speaking” but “speaks” only in the terms that support his message. He cites sodium and the macronutrients protein, carbs and fats in his explanation. Surely, doing his show day after day with nutrition experts (who are really well versed “nutritionally speaking”) Dr Oz knows of BPAs in most canned goods, pesticides in conventional produce, omega 3s and trans fats but maybe I’m being elitist in mentioning these details. In a discussion on meat, Oz condescends and says “there’s no question grass-fed, free-range, pasture-dwelling cows lead happier lives” but when he glosses over hormones, antibiotics, E. coli saying “if these things are important to you and you have the money to spend” go for it. Yes, hormones, antibiotics and E. coli are rather important, not a very “happy life” for me with my family consuming those.

Many of the examples cited are inconsistent. Nitrates in cold cuts are discouraged “don’t go there” but potential trans fats in PB are ignored. “Baked Pita Chips are great” really, “nutritionally speaking” what do they offer? Is fiber an “artisanal ingredient”?  Dr Oz  breaks down fats into the archaic saturates are bad and unsaturated are good but nutrition experts, even the non-snobby ones, know that there are good saturated fats  (hello coconut and chocolate) and less healthy unsaturated fats so that’s not a great teaching tool.

I would let all these details go (not so good at letting things go but I would be less harsh) if the premise of the article was healthy, affordable food for all. However, polarizing specialty brands, farmer’s markets and “meat boutiques” on one side as snobby and unnecessary and suggesting supermarket, conventional food as affordable, accessible and every bit as good doesn’t tell a balanced tale. And I have to point out people would be better served using hard-earned money for organic dairy than the esoteric supplements Dr Oz pushes daily on his show.  It would be nice if we could all eat high quality food, achieve professional success and go to the finest hospitals but we cannot. We need to make the best food choices we can, within our budgets, and that may involve some sacrifices in terms of health and taste.  I may be a food snob but I’m an honest one.
Did you read the article? Do you think you need to knock the smaller and perhaps more expensive options to point out affordable ones? Do you think organic, grass-fed, fresh, hormone free food is "basically the same"? 
Last day to enter/win Foodtrainers Favorite Gifts (I should say snobby gifts).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Snack, Cook, Run, Imbibe and lots of Giveaways

So we get through Thanksgiving and our reward? Black Friday, cyber Monday and the frenzy with everyone looking buy, buy, buy. If you’re in NYC you have the added bonus of a month of gridlock. Sorry if I’m sounding a little grinchy, I actually love the holidays, it’s all the added stuff that makes me happy to be fleeing the city weekly starting Friday.

If you’re exasperated by the holiday hoopla, today’s post is for you. No really, it’s all for you. On Monday we put together our Foodtrainers’ Favorite Gifts/GuideToday, some of our favorites wanted to spread the joy and have giveaways waiting for you. We followed suit with our newest Foodtrainers creation.

Full confession, I first learned of Catherine McCord and Weelicious from the Goop newsletter. Though McCord’s recipes include the “wee” set, they make adults really happy. Her Sweet Broiled Salmon has made our regular dinner rotation.  If you’re looking to spice up your menus, we have one Weelicious book for a hungry reader.

Holidays are hectic, as you shop, attend parties or travel this month (and in general) I’ll remind you of the importance of a purse snack. While nuts are one of the most nutritious foods, they’re also very easy to overdo. Enter, our Foodtrainers’ Nutcase.
On the back we’ll make sure you know the snacking parameters. I’m starting to feel like Oprah, if only…but we’re giving away a nutcase too.

I don’t know about you but the issue of where to stash things while running or heading to a workout class is quite perplexing. I remember my grandmother enjoying her natural “breast pocket” with a tissue always appearing from odd places. That’s not for me, especially not with sweat involved. Enter Sprigs wrist wallets. Your money, credit card and even phone will have a dry place to stay. One wrist wallet for a reader AND as if that’s not exciting enough use code FoodTrainers20 10% off of orders up to $29.99 or 20% off of orders above that amount and is valid until 11:59 PM EDT, 12/31/12. Did I mention the ear bags? If you’re anti-hat check those out too

And finally, not saying any of you with need this but DRAMapothecary has a highly effective (not that we would know)”hair of the dog” hangover tonic. This blend of herbs “cures the ailments caused by overindulgence of a good time.” I’d grab one of every hostess, college student and fun friend on your list. DRAM

Tis’ the season and DRAM knows it, how about 5 bottles to give away?

We can’t make the holidays less hectic but we’re here to make them happier.
What is on your wish list? Which of these items makes you most excited? Rank these gifts in the order you like them. 
You have until Monday, Dec 3rd to let your Foodtrainers’ elves know.
More holiday fun next Thursday, check back.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What's Better Juices or Smoothies?

As I sit here, at my in-laws house, after Thanksgiving #1 with my family and Thanksgiving part duex with Marc’s family I’m looking forward to Monday. It’s not what you think; we’ve had a great time. I am excited because we’re testing out a cleanse from my favorite juice truck The Squeeze. With juice on my mind, I thought about this question I received from a client.

What is the difference between smoothies (drinking the roughage) and juicing (no roughage) in terms of my diet? 
I was posed a similar question for a Refinery29 article.
For starters, smoothies are made in a blender (for me that means Vitamix) and juices in a juicer (love my Breville). My client who posed the question was correct. With smoothies the fiber from the fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices are retained. Whereas when you juice the pulp (which contains fiber) is extracted leaving just the liquid behind. Fiber has such a healthy reputation that there can be a rush to judgment that higher fiber has to be better but it’s not that simple.

Juice and I'm talking primarily veggie juice, with the bulk removed, enables quick energy. Juice doesn’t play hard to get and your body doesn't have to "unwrap" or digest in order to access the nutrients. For those of you who enjoy spinning, juicing is akin to riding with little resistance (fiber) so you can go (or get your nutrition) faster. Eating a salad or drinking a smoothie is more like riding with tension or resistance. You’ll go more slowly perhaps in a more controlled, even manner.

There’s also the issue of quantity. When I juice in the morning I cover a large cutting board with greens, ginger, lemon, pear or whatever I have on hand. You’d have to eat 9 cups of kale to get the potassium, calcium and iron in two cups of green juice. I think of a daily juice almost like a multivitamin. Smoothies, on the other hand, don’t require as much in terms of quantity. My typical smoothie is approximately 1 cup of frozen fruit, a handful of greens, protein powder and then other random ingredients (cacao, yacon, coffee extract are current favorites). I digress, the point I’m making is that there’s a fraction of the produce in a smoothie versus a juice. From a calorie perspective, green juices hover around 150 per 16oz. Smoothies made with fruit, protein, some sort of liquid (almond milk or coconut water) and a little good fat can be double but you’ll get more staying power. 

I think I answered the “what’s better?” question in the most annoying manner that is saying “it depends” but it really does. I hate to be "bi-vegetable" but there are benefits to juicing and “smoothing”. Juice is a megadose of nutrients and smoothing is better for satiety, better for post workout recovery. Most days I’ll have one of each. So if you’re in the market for a Vitamix or a juicer, I can’t sway you either way. It’s like choosing between my family and my in-laws and let’s just say diplomatically that I’m “thankful” for both.
Do you juice or "smooth"? Which do you prefer? What are your current favorite ingredients? And after a holiday weekend, how was your eating? Parents or in-laws?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Teams, You a Ripa or an IJOD?

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for clients who come to our offices throughout the year. I am also thankful for this blog and especially the dialog that we often have in the comments section. As you know, I welcome a good debate and so for those of you who disagree or offer a divergent view, thankful for you all too.
Yesterday, I did a quick segment on Thanksgiving. It was specifically about gluten free Thanksgiving options but the producer opened with “What do you tell clients when it comes to Thanksgiving, is it a day to enjoy everything and put your diet on hold or should they (and we) make an effort to keep it healthy?”

As I see it, there are two camps on Thanksgiving. On her show Kelly Ripa lightheartedly said, “I’m going to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner and eat like it’s any other day because when you don’t you get into trouble.” On the other hand, after the CBS segment ran with me and other chefs and experts explain how to tame Thanksgiving the anchor concluded with the flipside “I don’t know, it’s one day, I plan on enjoying myself.” And Clinton Kelly, of The Chew, on a funny segment on table etiquette said whatever you do “don’t say the D-word at the table.” D here refers to diet.

I don’t think these camps or viewpoints are as polarizing as it may seem. The “it’s one day” folks really don’t want to end an evening seeking antacids and elastic clothing. And the “Ripa’s” probably will not be in a corner eating white meat turkey, crudité, peeling marshmallows from their sweet potatoes. And I concur with Clinton whether you are gluten-free, paleo or just run of the mill neurotic, nobody (except the host well beforehand in the case of an allergy) needs to know your eating rules.

“It’s one day” sounds innocuous if it were really one day. One of the things that work against Thanksgiving is its occurrence on a Thursday. Many could recover from having two days (3500-5000 whopping calories)  of food at one pop if it was sandwiched by regular consumption on other days. What typically happens is that Thanksgiving acts as the starting gun for “it’s one day” folks that ends up being 35 days and Thanksgiving is early this year, make that 40 until the new year.

Some advice?
Thursday, stick to the One Plate Rule- you wouldn’t ask for seconds at a restaurant and this food beats restaurant food in butter and sugar content.
And Focus on Friday. If you have stuffing or pie or candied (apt description) yams today, leave them today. Tomorrow turkey in a salad, turkey soup…you get the idea.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy all you have to be thankful for.
Which camp are you in? Ripas or IJODS (it’s just one day-ers)?  Are you a leftover person? Do you think it’s possible to keep treats to just one day?

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm Losing Sleep and Tony Horton is to Blame

This isn't about "ego and aesthetics" says Horton

Periodically, I watch Dr Oz episodes at bedtime but I have to stop. The last time I pressed play Elisabeth Hasselbeck was on dispensing information on food intolerances. This time Tony Horton was the featured guest. Perhaps you recognize the name from  the P90X videos; Tony Horton has a tremendous client roster as a personal trainer. What made me cringe wasn’t his exercise advice it was when he stepped into nutritonland. And cringe is in understatement. I got out of bed too worked up to sleep.

What irked me about Horton’s advice is something I’ve seen a lot lately. I would categorize it as the advice you want to hear, the advice you want to be true. However, when you get down to it, it’s really patronizing. The show opened with skinny minis popping out from behind their old enormous clothes. I thought for sure Horton would come out and play the role of expert in smaller-sizing but no. Dr Oz asked Horton why he was disappointed with dieters. First, Horton told Dr Oz, this is not about fitting into certain clothing.  Horton sighed and shrugged  and explained that most people were focused on looking good. Efforts should be focused on improving our quality of life. This “it’s on the inside that matters” guidance was followed less than 2 minutes later with Horton lifting up his shirt at Dr Oz’s request (a weird moment but it didn’t take that much convincing). And here’s the deal, eating well is about feeling good and sleeping better, “going” better and whole host of things that have nothing to do with aesthetics. But looks matter to most of us and no trainer or “guru” is going to get you or the rest of the world to take vanity (his or yours) off the menu. Plus, I’m sorry how can you look into a camera and tell us to shift the focus from our little black dresses with enough Botox to all the "Real" Housewives wrinkle free? Hmn. This is in the same “vein” as diets that “aren’t diets but food plans”. We go on diets to look (and feel) better and once we establish that we can move on. …

 Horton moved on to his specific food advice with his 90/10 concept. Who doesn’t like plans that hinge on cheat days? Horton revealed a table full of fruits and vegetables and salmon and nuts, the typical diet rainbow and then came his big reveal. If you eat these “clean” foods 90% of the time you can, drumroll please, have chocolate cake some of the time. The oohs and aahs filled the room, who would object to the chocolate cake system? Horton said, “people need to ne rewarded.” I’m not treat-averse. I’ve talked about treat training and how to integrate less-than-wholesome items into your diet. However, it can’t all be about the cake. What worries me about this reasoning is that you can’t be living 90% of your hours waiting for cake time. If you’re spending your days choking down kale and quinoa pining for your food reward, I’m sorry but it’s not going to work. Most people who keep their weight in a happy place enjoy how they are eating and keep their food choices interesting and pleasurable. It’s can be suffer and then celebrate because in the long run, who wants to suffer?
With all nutrition and diet advice, we have to separate what would be nice: if size didn’t matter or cake could be a regular part of our lives from the truth.
What diet advice drives you crazy? Are you familiar with Horton? Do you watch Dr Oz? Did you happen to see this show? And do you think it detracts from a message if experts flaunt their own bodies?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dream Thanksgiving Menu & the Right Turkey to Serve

Kale, Butternut Squash Salad (recipe below)
I may have mentioned that my family went out to eat for Thanksgiving last year. I wasn’t happy about the plan but you know what?  My day wasn’t spent in the kitchen. Instead of a marathon meal, it was more like a 10K. I drank and ate what I wanted (as did everyone else) and wasn’t sucked into having things because they’re traditional or homemade. And there are no second helpings when you’re at a restaurant. We’re going out again this year and I’m thrilled. Most of clients will be hosting or at a relative’s next Thursday. They will face the typical holiday booby traps, food pushers etc. but the tide is turning. It’s no longer about having a heart attacky holiday feast with a lonely, decorative vegetable. Nope, more and more we’re hearing “nobody needs marshmallows on sweet potatoes” and we concur. Here’s our Foodtrainers’ dream Thanksgiving and I have no plans for next year in case you're cooking...

Appetizers should be very simple maybe olives (I’m voting Cerignoa), Parsnip Chips or veggies and my new favorite dip Basilicotta.
 I served this Kale Butternut Squash salad at Halloween but if I were hosting Thanksgiving I’d serve it again. It’s seasonal/festive but healthy and so delicious. My friend Jenna from Rosaberry concocted it; I wish I had thought of it. I guess it isn't Thanksgiving-like to be jealous.
1.5 pounds butternut squash, diced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 bunch lacinato kale, thick stems removed and cut into thin strips
Juice of one lemon
2 Tablespoons pepitas
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the squash on the pan and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Roast until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
  2. To toast the pepitas, place them in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Cook until golden, stirring frequently.
  3. Place the kale in a large bowl. Using your hands toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste frequently and make sure the kale is well-seasoned. Add the squash, toss again, and taste again.
  4. Place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the pepitas.

You may not think so but Brussels sprouts are crowd pleasers. Perhaps you’ve had them roasted or spruced up with bacon or pancetta. But have you had hash?
Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots.
Unbutter (I have used half the suggested amount) or you’ll have to unbutton.

Carolyn wrote a Thanksgiving post on WebMD regarding turkey, an unappetizing excerpt:
“Did you know that traditional, factory farmed turkeys are artificially inseminated to reproduce? That’s how I’ll start the dinner conversation this year. If I have my way, none of us will ever look at the turkey baster the same way again. That’s not even taking into account the massive overfeeding, followed by saline and flavor injections to improve taste and texture. Eventually my family members will give me “the look”, or an elbow, or both. I’m giving you the opportunity to get a wild, heritage, or organic turkey.”
In case Carolyn scared you, Rustic Root has turkeys from Hemlock Hill Farm “Free Range, Pasture Raised, No Antibiotics, Steroids or Hormones of any kind.”
They are so concerned that you may be serving up steroids, they are offering free delivery just enter the code- foodtrainers, at checkout. Order before Friday at 5pm.


I am a big fan of the Smart Grain brand and use their gluten free bread crumbs in meatloaf and for breading. The have a Sage Stuffing that I believe both G-Free NYC and Gary Nulls carry.

Raw Pumpkin Mousse
Next year, when you invite me over bear in mind I’m not such a dessert person. I’ll be perfectly happy with a square of Alter Eco Quinoa/Dark Chocolate. If you insist on serving something, I like treats in ramekins. How about...pumpkin mousse? After all, there is no need for “crust” after a holiday meal.

I’m so thankful to be able to be lighthearted. I am thinking about those people who don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving or always hosted in a house that no longer exists. I’m having a little Sandy fundraiser on 11/29, email me if you’d like more information.
In the meantime? What would be on your dream Thanksgiving menu? Any of these recipes/ideas you think you’ll try? Will Carolyn cause you to look at your turkey differently?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why Your Working May Not Be Cutting It

From Mashable Infographic

We first started to realize just how bad sitting was when we read A.J. Jacob's Drop Dead Healthy (great book).  Since that time, there have been numerous studies concluding that sitting for long periods of time is wreaking havoc with our weight and health. We had our intern Katelynn sort out the sitting issue and suggest ways for us to maintain our professional lives without gaining weight and harming our health. And Katelynn’s video is a must watch (awesome).

You’re probably sitting down right now while reading this and I’m sitting right now while writing this. The problem is that our bodies are physically designed to stand up regularly and to move around. Excessive sitting is defined as sitting for more than six hours a day and very easy to  “accomplish” with an office job and a modest TV habit. Think about it, a couple of hours in the morning, two more at lunch, a couple of shows at night, you're there. According to The New York Times, “the average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of their time sitting.” That’s half of your life as we say T2C (tush to chair).  A recent U.S. News and World Report article showed that even 3 hours per day could have deleterious effects, uh oh.

A popular misconception is that if you get enough daily exercise, you’re exempt from the consequences of sitting. However, the truth is far from that. In fact, the person who exercises regularly but sits or watches TV for a combination of six hours has similar risk to someone who sits the same amount and doesn’t exercise. Regardless of your activity level, excessive sitters live two years less. Studies have found that prolonged sitting increases the rate of hear disease and diabetes while and slowing your metabolism.  People who sit too long reduce good cholesterol levels by 22 percent. And data presented at the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded sitting time is emerging as a cancer risk factor independent of weight or exercise habits. Excessive sitting can also lead to poor posture, knee pain, herniated discs and other back and neck.

So what is it that makes sitting so bad? Physiologically certain things happen when we sit. Lipase is what helps muscles absorb fat. While sitting, we don’t produce lipase so fat can be stored or end up in our arteries. Other research pointed out what happens within muscle when we sit, there's “the absence of skeletal muscle contractions, particularly in the very large muscles of the lower limbs,” When muscles don’t contract they don’t require fuel so blood sugar can accumulate in the bloodstream. This explains the sitting/diabetes connection.

Short of quitting a desk job or investing in a treadmill desk (we can dream) try standing versus sitting. As REM said (I thought REM was a typo when Lauren suggested I include this), “Stand in the Place Where You Are"extra points if you do the dorky dance. Stand while on the phone or watching your children play. When seated make sure you get up every 30 minutes. Aside from letting lipase do it’s fat zapping job, according to Dr. Hamilton, associate professor of biomedical sciences University of Missouri, standing will help you burn an extra 60 calories an hour. And because we have your back (and don’t want that back decorated in back fat), here are some exercise ideas you can implement while commuting or at your desk:

This youtube video Katelynn created could could change your life. 

As seen in the video:
Calf Raises
While doing these calf raises ‘the calves perform a motion called plantar flexior, and you can burn about 20 calories for 15 of these. Also stand on the bus or subway.

Water Bottle Workout
A 16 oz Poland Spring water bottle weighs approximately 1.08 pounds. The heavier the water bottle, the more it will help work your arm muscles. And for your feet at your desk these Yamuna reflexology balls are fantastic.

Swap Out Your Chair
Exchange your old wooden office chair for one that will give you a workout while sitting. Gaiam sells the perfect “Balance Ball Chairs” for your office. 

Dr. Alpa Patel, senior epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society, had this ot say about sitting “if you reduce sitting by five minutes an hour, at the end of a long day, you’ve shaved an hour of your total sitting time.” 
Are you sedentary or active during the day? How much would you guesstimate you sit? Did you realize sitting was so dangerous?
Spread the word, tweet us evidence that you're taking this information to heart. REM dance? Water bottle workout? Commute Calk Raises? Let's see it.